May 4, 2022
When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, many organizations had to shift to “work from home.” The change was unplanned, immediate and initially temporary. Now, as COVID cases begin to plateau, businesses are implementing their “future of work” strategies, and yet another big change lies on the horizon. But this one is deliberate and more permanent.
Regardless of if your organization has shifted to a fully remote, hybrid or in-the-office strategy, strong communications will support a successful change. Here are seven tips to keep in mind as you implement the “future of work” at your organization.
1. Be transparent. It is important to be as transparent as possible to help employees feel safe and comfortable. As you communicate the new model for work at your organization, err of the side of giving as many details about when the change will occur, how it will occur, how it may change the flow of work, and what this may mean for work culture.
2. Share rationale for the decision. Sharing the ‘why’ behind the decision, whether you are returning to full-time “work in the office” or moving to a permanent “work from home” culture, is essential to getting employees on board. Rationale behind the decision can move employees along the change curve from confusion to understanding and acceptance.
3. Leverage your communications team to support the change. Your communications team is an important asset in implementing change. They can think about all of the impacted audiences from senior leaders to managers to individual contributors, help determine the best communications tactics, identify who can act as an ambassador and more.
4. Develop a communications strategy that fits your company and culture. A blanket communications strategy won’t support the mindset shift that employees will need to make. Develop a strategy that meets your people where they are with tactics that are tailored to your organization’s situation and culture. It’s less about the all-associate email and more about senior leadership listening sessions, small group meetings and one-on-one discussions.
5. Provide support to managers. Managers are the connector between leadership and employees. By providing them with tools and messages early on, they can help develop the culture and ensure that employees adjust to the change successfully.
6. Allow time to digest and adapt to the change. Adaptation is taking more time than before given all the changes that have occurred and the overall uncertainty in the world. Some employees are just becoming comfortable with the “new normal,” and they will need more time than usual to adjust to the new work mode. Think months, not weeks.
7. Continue to listen. Even after your team has started to shift to the “new normal,” continue to listen to employees on how they are feeling and adjusting to the new work culture. Consistent and thorough listening can help leadership adapt communications, procedures and policies to help make the shift seamless and help employees better adjust to the change. Actively listening and leaving the lines of communication open will help employees feel supported.
How you communicate about the change in work at your organization will be critical in determining how well and how quickly employees adapt to the change. The ultimate goal is to have employees understand, accept and adapt to the change, no matter what decision is made, without damaging the organization’s culture, morale or productivity. A true change management communication plan can help navigate the process and get employees on board.
Want to talk through a communication plan for the change? Contact our change management practice leader Karin Bonev so we can set up some time to discuss.